Europe faces tougher virus curbs as global cases hit daily record


Europe faces tougher virus curbs as global cases hit daily record

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

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PARIS,France (AFP)— People in France and Germany were bracing Wednesday for tough new curbs on their daily lives as Europe struggled to contain an alarming surge in coronavirus cases.

More than 500,000 new infections were reported worldwide on Tuesday in a new daily record, according to an AFP tally -- almost half of them in Europe.

The deepening gloom across the continent and other parts of the world contrasted with the jubilation in Australia's second city of Melbourne where champagne corks popped to celebrate the end of a months-long lockdown.

The pandemic has unleashed devastation across the global economy since emerging in China at the end of 2019.

And in the absence of a vaccine or effective treatment, countries are being forced to impose widely unpopular COVID-19 restrictions that have sparked violent clashes in Italy.

Much of the United States -- the worst-hit nation -- is also bracing for a tough winter, and the pandemic is dominating the campaign for next week's election.

In Europe, the main stock markets tumbled as investors fretted over tighter measures expected to be imposed in the EU's leading economies.

Daily cases of COVID-19 in France have topped 50,000, while Germany is regularly reporting 10,000 new infections.

- 'Unpopular' French measures -

French President Emmanuel Macron is to address the nation on Wednesday evening to present new measures that a government official said were likely to be "unpopular", as doctors warn that many hospitals are days away from being overrun.

French media reported that Macron had become convinced of the need for a nationwide four-week lockdown.

Other options said to be considered included extending curfew hours already imposed on 46 million people, possibly with a full lockdown at weekends, or targeted stay-at-home orders for hardest-hit regions.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is also expected to push for drastic new curbs in crisis talks with regional leaders Wednesday.

The proposed restrictions to come in force from November 4 to the end of the month would limit contact outdoors to people from two households, according to a draft document seen by AFP.

Schools, daycare centres and shops will remain open, but bars, cafes, restaurants would shut.

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